The future we want needs legal empowerment and justice | Magdy Martinez

05 Oct 2012

Roma in Osh, Kyrgyzstan. Photo: UNDP in Europe & CIS Roma in Osh, Kyrgyzstan. Photo: UNDP in Europe & CIS

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have been successful on many levels. They could be understood by all. They could be implemented universally. They have become the development horizon for 140 governments in the South and the coherent cooperation agenda for another 50 governments of the North.

Clear, quantifiable and time-bound goals and targets were at the core of this success. But new challenges have arisen. For development to be effective, inclusive and sustainable, governance values, systems and institutions are needed.

Formulation of the post MDG development agenda needs to be a broad-based and inclusive process, which reflects the demands and priorities of the people most impacted by development policy, i.e. the poor and marginalized groups.  

Recently, Ms. Aminata Toure, the Minister of Justice of Senegal, noted that while the youth in her country express patience with the slow pace of infrastructure and social development, they will no longer stand the injustice in their society.

In last week’s Financial Times, George Soros and Sir Fazle Abed argue that legal identity and birth registration are universal rights and key to the enjoyment of many development goals including education, health and access to employment. It is a goal of legal empowerment of the poor.  

This is applicable in many developing countries (and in some developed ones as well). In Mexico, where I served as Resident Coordinator until recently, the lowest rate of registration at birth, and the lowest proportion of financial inclusion and legal empowerment are to be found among indigenous people. In Spain, my native country, the same exclusion stigma hurts a large section of the Roma population.

Property tenure security, curbing violent crime, increased access to legal advice, and remedies for the poor’s claims, and their linkages to women’s empowerment, young people’s dignity, conflict prevention and employment creation, are all important dimensions to be considered in the sustainable development equation. The future world we want demands justice.

Talk to us:  How can legal empowerment be factored into the next development agenda?

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